Monday, October 15, 2012

Novelty, Hockey Strikes, and iphones. . . .

I supposed many people have always been obsessed with novelty. For some people the new is always better than the old. But, at the risk of sounding old myself, it seems to me that our era is more than any other infatuated with the lastest innovation, the newest thing. Sometimes this infatuation demonstrates the victory of form over content. After all, how many times do we find ourselves purchasing some new product, from iphones to kitchen gagets, simply because it is new, regardless of whether it really constitutes a meaningful innovation that will significantly impact on the way we do things. Even in entertainment we have become obsessed by 'newness.' I mean, for years now people have been purchasing the newest novels despite the fact that they almost never add anything to our literary experience. You could, for example, spend years just reading the novels written, say in the decade of 1960s. This obsession with the new is even more pronounced in other areas of entertainment. Hollywood pumps out dozens of movies a year with little interest in narrative innovation, but simply because the film-makers can make a more visually interesting action movie with better and better special effects. Though I have little interest in computer games, I understand this phenomenon is even more in evidence in this field. Some games makers, such as those who developed the Halo series, just keep putting out newer versions of their games with just enough changes to entice their game-addicted audience.

But these examples suggest that this obsession with novelty and newness is more often than not simply a superficial drive and that consumers are easily fooled by what are essentially minor, or even fake, innovations for an audience that will buy almost anything if it is simply marketed correctly. And this realization gave me an idea. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I really despise almost all professionalized sports, and Hockey in particular. Besides my moral and economic objections to professionalized sports, I find them remarkably monotonous. Year in and year out people watch their favorite sports teams play through their seasons, losing and winning in a parade of weary games that seem to turn into blur of tiresome repetition. So it occurred to me that this notion presents us with an easy solution to the present NHL strike. Since the majority of hockey fans simply watch the games on television, does it really matter what games they are watching? Why don't the officials of the NHL simply choose a season of hockey, one long ago enough so that it is not in people's immediate memory but not so old that the games look old, and televise all the games of that season as though they are happening now. News channels can get in on the harmless deception by reporting the scores of the games as though they are really taking place, complete with more in-depth analysis of the ins and outs of the match. It could be an ersatz hockey season with star-players and memorable goals, and a much anticipated playoff race.

This ersatz sports season could solve two problems in one go. On the one hand it would help all those people who are depressed about the strike, and on the other hand it would remind people that they really don't need novelty for the sake of novelty. And while we are at it, why don't we convince Apple to issue the "All New" iphone 6 but without any actual change from the iphone 5 except, say, a new color. And since there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of people who will buy anything new from Apple, they can make a whole bunch of money, a large portion of which they can donate to charity. It would be a win/win situation for everyone involved. All those consumers will get a new phone, Apple will make money and so will charities.

Tomorrow I will show you how to solve the problems in the Middle-East.


doconnor said...

You must be please the the CBC has choose to ride out the Hockey drought by replaying some of the best hockey games from the past.

While it hasn't done this recently, a few years ago it was common for people to make a big deal about it when Apple released products in new colours. Remember to colourful first generation iMacs.

One thing about new novels and movies is that they can take into account the latest culture, which can make them more relatable.

Owen Gray said...

Isn't it interesting that, while we are fascinated by the next new thing, the people who are in charge politically are fascinated by the past?

Is there any connection?